FSEM Instructor Announcements: August 2017

FSEM Instructors:
Find below a few announcements from the FSEM Team.

  • Thank you for your assistance during the first few weeks of the seminar. With your help, we have successfully facilitated several first-year student concerns. See also Colin MacFarlane’s student alert notice on first-years requiring additional support and important information about Stetson’s Student Success Collaborative.
  • FSEM Syllabi and Teaching Apprenticeship Syllabi are due. Submit to [email protected] or deliver to Maribel Velazquez at Flagler Hall by August 31, 2017. Indicate your interest (or not) in sharing your syllabus with other instructors.
  • Note that suggested language for learning outcomes related to mentoring and student integration components of FSEM is available at FSEM Resources.
  • The following areas have provided resources for your consideration. Click on each for details or search for others using “Resources”.

Honor Council

Writing Center

Information Literacy

  • A draft FSEM Manual & Resource Guide is available. Interested in providing content? Contact Us.
  • Each FSEM has a class experience budget of $150 to spend on an activity that is social, academic, or both. To receive an immediate cash reimbursement, submit receipts for the FSEM experience directly to Maribel Velazquez in the English Department Office (second floor of Flagler Hall). If you prefer the University pay the vendor directly, please contact Maribel Velazquez at least one week prior to the event to receive a Departmental Purchase Order (DPO). The DPO allows you access to a number of restaurants and businesses in town in lieu of direct payment.
  • I promised a poll in August to identify your best availability to participate in the Fall 2017 FSEM Student Success Workshops. However, I am awaiting confirmation on FSEM Leadership from the Provost. In the meantime, please think about workshop topics and possible facilitators. Also, might you have interest in a forum to come to consensus on which of the expectations (5 General Learning Outcomes and 3 QEP priorities) are most critical to the FSEM and which are optional? The poll will include these questions so stay tuned.
  • Provost Painter is reviewing the outcomes of the FSEM Instructor Welcome Back Workshop (August 2017) and the FSEM Transformative Learning Institute (May 2017). Stay tuned for announcements.

Here at home, we are coping with the passing of sophomore Nick Blakely. And in Texas, colleges and universities are dealing with the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey. And the list keeps growing. Thank you to those of you who have shared actions you/your students are undertaking to commemorate Nick’s life or support victims in Texas.

Special thanks also to the many who have sent suggestions and items to be posted at the FSEM Blog. Please do not hesitate to share what you/your students are doing so that we can share with the FSEM community and others. Submit your announcements, questions, ideas, and recommendations to [email protected].

Have a productive semester.

Interim FSEM Director
Associate Provost for Faculty Development
Professor of Chemistry and Education

FSEM Showcase Information Literacy

Kaletski-Maisel offers interactive literacy resources for FSEM students


I took my FSEM class to the library yesterday and had Grace Kaletski-Maisel, assistant professor and learning and information literacy librarian, present on finding sources, evaluating credibility of information, and library services. The presentation was really interactive and she also created a webpage with resources specific to assignments in my class.

I highly recommend faculty and instructors utilize her as a resource for classes, I was really impressed, and I think it is really going to impact the quality of the assignments students will be turning in.

Check out the link if you have time.

Savannah-Jane Griffin
Director of Community Engagement and Inclusive Excellence

Advising Announcements

Resource Reminder: Stetson SSC

This is a reminder that Stetson SSC (Student Success Collaborative) is available as a resource to all faculty at DeLand/Celebration through the Student Information area of your Faculty tab in My.Stetson.

Stetson SSC is great for:

  • Scheduling Meetings with students – extremely helpful for Advising Week.
  • Alerting Campus Life and Student Success so appropriate follow-up can be done for students in non-emergency distress.  Always call Public Safety or 911 in an emergency ?
  • Messaging (text or email) your students.
  • Reviewing student information (pre-college characteristics, academic performance, engagement with support services such as tutoring or success coaching) all in one spot.

Helpful user guides with step by step screen-capture instructions are available online (click the Training Materials link in the navigation menu). You can also book a training for yourself or your department by emailing Colin MacFarlane.

Advising Announcements

First-Year Advising Labs

All first-year students are required to attend a First-Year Advising Lab.

The purpose of the lab is to assist students in preparing to have discussions with their faculty advisors about course selection and how to include high impact practices in the student’s education. This lab will teach students more about the Stetson curriculum and how it impacts their specific goals. More


Honor Council offers resources to FSEM instructors

Image result for Honor codeColleagues:
This year, the Stetson Honor System Council is focused on a variety of educational initiatives aimed at first year students.

Primarily, we offer presentations for FSEM and first year classrooms. These presentations take 10-15 minutes, depending on content and engagement level. In addition, we are planning several other initiatives:

  • a workshop series to take place during September and October, with subjects including academic integrity, plagiarism, and MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles. We would be most grateful for professors to encourage their students’ attendance;
  • a 5-7 minute video presentation that can serve in lieu of an in-class presentation; and
  • a 5-7 minute video on plagiarism.

FSEM instructors who would like Honor Council members to visit their classrooms should contact Kimberly Noriega, vice president for education; Kathryn Renae Metcalf, president; or Cindy Bennington, faculty advisor.


Cindy Bennington
Honor Council Faculty Advisor

FSEM Showcase

Meet Maribel Velasquez, administrative support for the FSEM Program

Maribel Velasquez has been providing part-time administrative support of Stetson’s FSEM Program since 2013.

“In this role, I coordinate the logistics of the FSEM Program,” said Ms. Velazquez. “For example, I maintain the FSEM Program budget and provide oversight of the $150 Class Experience Budget for FSEM instructors to engage students a classroom/social/field trip experience. I also maintain the FSEM web pages, assign classrooms to overlapping FSEM classes during FOCUS week, email rosters to FSEM instructors, coordinate FSEM workshop logistics, and provide other general administrative support of the FSEM director.”

Have questions? Ms. Velasquez can help you or point you to the right person or resource. Contact her at [email protected].

About Maribel Velasquez

Maribel Velazquez is administrative specialist III for the English Department as well as the Master of Fine Arts and First Year Seminar Programs at Stetson University. She joined the Stetson University community in 2005. Prior, Maribel served in the areas of Residential Life and the office of Dean of Students at Stetson University.

Ms. Velazquez earned a BA in accounting, specializing in business practice. She has worked in higher education for over 20 years and is from New York City.


Director of Moral Courage Project to Speak at Values Day on Sept. 26

Stetson University’s Values Day will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, according to the Values Day Committee.

Irshad Manji will be the speaker at Stetson’s 2017 Values Day on Sept. 26. Photo by Jimmy Jeong/courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

The 2017 Values Day speaker is Irshad Manji. She is the Founder and Director of the Moral Courage Project, which equips students to make values-based decisions. She has turned her journey as a Muslim feminist reformer and lesbian activist into teachings about professional leadership, informed by cutting-edge research that connects across the disciplines.

The New York Society for Ethical Culture has given Manji the Ethical Humanist Award. And Oprah Winfrey awarded Manji the first annual Chutzpah Award for “audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction.” Manji has also produced a PBS documentary in the America at a Crossroads series titled “Faith Without Fear” and the documentary was nominated for a 2008 Emmy Award.

To learn more about Manji and her work, please visit her personal website and her NYU project.
 This year’s R.E.A.D. (Reflect Engage & Affirm Diversity) book, “Allah, Liberty and Love” (2011), is written by Manji. Manji describes the book as an effort to “reconcile faith and freedom in a world seething with repressive dogmas.” One of the key teachings of Manji’s work and a universal theme in her book is “moral courage” or the willingness to question, speak up, and be a courageous global citizen in a world filled with inequities. To check out a description of her book, visit the following site or Amazon.

For faculty, staff and students eager to read the book prior to Values Day and for faculty/staff members interested in integrating the book in 2017-2018 courses, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has generously ordered books and should have copies available for pick-up Aug. 7, 2017. Additionally, copies will be made available at Convocation and during the R.E.A.D. session at Values Day.

For any inquiries or questions regarding Values Day, please contact Dr. Chris Bell ([email protected]), Savannah-Jane Griffin ([email protected]), or me ([email protected]).

In community,

Rajni Shankar-Brown, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Jessie Ball duPont Chair of Social Justice Education
Director of Education Graduate Programs
Stetson University

Adapted from Stetson Today. August 27, 2017

FSEM Showcase

What is Stetson’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)?

Stetson’s Quality Enhancement Plan, Transitions, aims to improve the onboarding of first-year students. The FSEM Program is the academic component of Stetson’s QEP.

The plan has two major initiatives:

  1. Hatter Trek is a summer transition program for a cohort of first year students to build their success vision. Students participate in four-day retreats designed to build community and gain understanding of Stetson’s academic expectations and student success resources.
  2. Hatter Quest is the intentional inclusion of an academic component into the fall orientation program for first-time-in-college students. Students engage in first-year seminar (FSEM) classes several times before the start of their regular schedule of courses. FSEM instructors integrate academic support services into seminar assignments to help students use success resources as they matriculate at Stetson. 

Each university or college seeking reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) is required to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan. Quality enhancement is at the heart of the Commission’s philosophy of accreditation. The QEP describes a carefully designed and focused course of action that addresses a well-defined topic or issue(s) related to enhancing student learning. The plan is designed by engaging the wider academic community to address one or more issues that contribute to institutional improvement. Stetson is currently preparing to submit its 5th-Year Interim Review Report to SACS-COC.

Workshops & Institutes

Recap: FSEM Instructor Welcome Back Workshop

The FSEM Program at Stetson University was delighted to welcome over 50 FSEM instructors, teaching apprentices, staff, and administrators to the FSEM kick-off workshop of the 2017-2018 academic year. The following recap, provided by facilitators, captures the essence of activity and outcomes of the gathering.

Friday, August 18, 2017
Allen Hall
12:00-2:30 pm

Lunch Served

12:00 – 12:15 pm
Noel Painter, Executive Vice President and Provost
Rosalie Richards, Associate Provost for Faculty Development

Provost Painter offered greetings and urged FSEM instructors and teaching apprentices to provide a distinctive experience for first year students. He highlighted that a taskforce or committee focused on core student learning  will become integral to the FSEM Program. Dr. Painter also highlighted the FSEM Discovery Initiative, a pilot project focused on moving an undeclared major into a major.

Associate Provost Richards framed her remarks by reminding FSEM instructors of their responsibilitiy for creating classroom environments free of bias and hate. She read the first paragraph of a Dear Colleague letter penned by the former Secretary of Education and former Deputy Secretary and referenced Stetson University’s position of solidarity with the University of Virginia. She then provided an update of the FSEM Program.

Associate Provost Full Remarks
2017 FSEM Program Update
2017 FSEM TLI Report

12:15 – 12:30 pm
Goals and History of the FSEM Program
Megan O’Neill, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program​

When we started the FSEM program, our faculty development meetings were brown bag lunches in the Faculty Lounge, and all 20 of us sat on mismatched chairs to share ideas, trade assignments, and talk about the intellectual work of the program for its students and the ways we translated our passion projects to the seminar parameters. Now, we meet in Allen Hall, and it’s barely big enough for us all.

Those early days were important in developing the heart and core of the program, but a number of questions had to be wrestled with:

  • What is the FSEM’s purpose?
  • Is it simply to help students transition from high school?
  • Or is the FSEM supposed to be an intro to a discipline?
  • Interdisciplinary? Quasi-disciplinary?
  • Was it a place for students to learn note taking skills and how to ask for help when they needed it?

Then, as FSEM expanded, other questions came up: Is it solely a liberal arts course in A&S? What is a Business FSEM like? What about a Music FSEM? Where are the commonalities and how can we respect differences?

After a decade of thinking, developing, investing, teaching, refining, and measuring, I think we’re coming around again to study the nature of the FSEM. It’s a place where students come to experience the life of the mind, the world of ideas, where they learn about new perspectives, read engaging texts, discuss new ideas, and join the intellectual world of the university. And although we don’t talk about our goals in this kind of language, I think we are also trying to teach them the habits of mind: inquiry; curiosity; creativity; resilience.

12:30 – 1:00 pm
Student Success:  Interactive Case Studies
FSEM Instructors partner with FSEM Teaching Apprentices to unpack student scenarios​
Julia Metzker, Executive Director of Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence

Participants organized into three groups comprising teaching apprentices, and seasoned, proficient, and new FSEM instructors. Each group evaluated one of three situational case studies steeped in stereotypes and microaggressions in the classroom. Participants offered recommendations on how each case embraced bias or discrimination and offered suggestion for how the FSEM instructor could positively address or redress each situation.

Interactive Case Studies

1:00 – 2:30 pm   
Breakout Sessions

Breakout #1: Getting Started: Aligning your assignments and assessments with FSEM learning outcomes
Target Audience: Novice FSEM Instructors
Colin MacFarlaneDirector of Assessment and Operational Effectiveness (CLaSS)
Rajni Shankar-Brown, Associate Professor and Jessie Ball duPont Chair of Social Justice Education

This session was facilitated by Rajni Shankar-Brown and Colin MacFarlane for new FSEM instructors. Six instructors were in attendance as well as learning and information literacy librarian, Grace Kaletski-Maisel, and Leigh Ann Dunning, director of the Writing Center and associate director of the Writing Program. The breakout was originally designed as a workshop to align assignments with the FSEM learning outcomes: critical thinking, speaking, writing, information literacy, and integrative learning. However, it became immediately clear to the facilitators that addressing pressing questions about FSEM was more important. Additionally, several instructors had attended the FSEM Transformative Learning Institute in May where alignment of assignments was also discussed in considerable detail. Facilitators concluded that addressing immediate needs of the seminars (scheduled to meet within three days) was a more prudent use of time.

Questions were raised on a variety of topics including

  • the mentoring role of the instructor
  • expectations around individual meetings with students
  • expectations of a community-building activity of a social and/or academic nature
  • attendance policies and strategies for working with students who arrive after the FSEM has begun
  • resources available from the duPont-Ball Library the Writing Center, and the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence.

Best practices to address questions were offered by all participants and facilitators were able to confirm some policies or procedures and other strategies based on experience. A few of the instructors brought their syllabus and had questions on specific items, and all instructors voiced having general questions amidst of both excitement and anxiety, i.e. being this was their first time teaching an FSEM course. A request was made for more information about the University’s policy related to student travel and off-campus events as related to the community-building activity.  Information will be made available to all FSEM instructors.

Additionally, instructors inquired about the $150  Class Experience Budget and asked for seminar experience ideas . Dr. Shankar-Brown recommended that instructors review their FSEM contract letter and contact Dr. Richards if there were any additional questions or needs. The facilitators shared ideas on how the funds could be used. Examples included but were not limited to taking students to DeLeon Springs and visiting the Sugar Mill, going bowling as a class, visiting a local museum, purchasing materials for in-class activities, and purchasing items to support a culminating project or celebration.

Breakout #2: Next Steps: Improving outcomes for students in your class
Target Audience: Proficient FSEM Instructors
Julia Metzker, Executive Director of Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence

The session started with participants introducing themselves with a short description of the FSEM they were preparing to teach. The breakout was originally designed around an activity for participants to map their syllabus to the learning outcomes and QEP priorities but plans were abandoned to deal with immediate concerns.

After a short free-write activity participants identified things they were most anxious about and the things they were most excited about, the session evolved into a free-flowing conversation to address some of the concerns.  The themes that arose predominantly centered around making sure participants were meeting the expectations of the FSEM – an issue they found challenging because they are either unclear about those expectations or did not feel they could adequately address all of the learning outcomes.  A secondary concern was engaging first-year students so they were active participants in class.

Two best practices arose from the conversation:

    1. Use the first five minutes of class to mimic the type of classroom engagement you want for the rest of the course; i.e., if your course is discussion-based, facilitate a discussion.
    2. Do not become overwhelmed with the many demands on the course. Focus on the top 3 skill development elements:  writing, speaking and information fluency; some felt critical thinking was essential as well.

There seemed to be a variation about which (and to what degree) of the expectations from the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) were being integrated into the class.  It was recommended that a forum be established for FSEM instructors to come to some consensus about which of the eight expectations (5 General Learning Outcomes and 3 QEP priorities) are most critical to the course and which are optional.

Breakout #3: Looking Forward Discussion: Where do we want to go? How do we get there?
Target Audience: Experienced FSEM Instructors
Megan O’Neill, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program
Ranjini Thaver, Professor of Economics and Director of Africana Studies​

Approximately 10 seasoned faculty discussed the status of the FSEM program, in particular, its past, present, and its future.

Faculty agreed that the FSEM program began as a visionary program with the mission of introducing new Stetson students to the rigors of college life and encouraging them to begin the journey of opening hearts and minds (see Stetson Values). However, for the past two years, the seminar has become a chore-like course with the overriding themes of housekeeping and retention, rather than enlightenment. There was general consensus that the overt reliance on top-down faculty development and the resultant frustration among seasoned faculty has triggered resistance to teaching an FSEM.

The following recommendations were made:

  • Remove the “student success” elements from course expectations
  • Keep FOCUS separate from the first week of FSEM. Completely devote three days to FSEM. This will empower faculty to concentrate on introducing to students the rigors of college academic life while encouraging them to explore the knowable unknown. This may be an effective start to students’ journey in the safe space that is the university. Classes will be 2-hours (which is 80% of a week’s in-class time), giving students the space and time to complete rigorous assignments. Evening FSEM-wide required movies/documentaries with discussion led by several FSEM faculty may reinforce our Values Commitment
  • Lighten the burden placed on faculty development for master teachers (i.e., folks with 8 or more FSEMs under their belts) by replacing workshops and unnecessary housekeeping meetings with opportunities for discussion amongst themselves.
  • Develop an informal mentoring plan for seasoned faculty to work with new FSEM instructors. This idea parallels the university-wide mentorship meals-program that existed until recently. The idea would be that both the seasoned and newer faculty would learn from each other’s FSEM ideas and course structures during a well-deserved meal sponsored by the FSEM program
  • Create FSEM circles or squares without professionalizing them by requiring applications and reports. Integrate this into the fabric of the program.

Seasoned FSEM faculty were clearly excited about effecting change to the program and hoped that suggestions will be considered and further deliberated by administrative leaders, and implemented in a timely manner.

2:00 – 2:30 pm
Report Out and Wrap-up
To close the workshop, each person provided a single word reflection. Some reflections are captured here:


Student Alert Notices

FSEM Instructors:
Here are two pieces of information we would like to convey to you.

  1. First Day of Class: FSEM rosters are always in flux this time of year as students are depositing and withdrawing. I want to remind you to consult your My.Stetson or Blackboard rosters before class as updates may be happening into Sunday morning/early afternoon. We will also be emailing you with any updates we receive from FOCUS check-in regarding no-shows and ask that you let us know of anyone who did not attend your class.
  2. Student Performance Alert: We believe with the amount of engagement FSEM instructors have with their students as well as the earlier start, that the midterm grade alone is not as good of a method of identifying students who are struggling and may need intervention and support. We are planning to request FSEM instructors provide an update on students who you believe need additional support from CLaSS resources, likely the week of September 11, 2017. This is a quick and easy process. You will receive an email which contains a link. The link takes you to a form that shows you your roster for FSEM. You click Yes for any student you are worried about and choose from a drop-down menu of why you are worried (missing class, poor performance on assignments, etc.) and then you click submit. You don’t have to click anything for students who are doing fine. If your whole class is doing great, just hit submit and you are done.

In Community,

Colin MacFarlane
Director of Assessment and Operational Effectiveness
Campus Life and Student Success
Stetson University